Memphis Must-Tastes

 

Amidst the many daily "hats" I wear, I like to call myself a natural concierge for the restaurant scenes of which I live and frequently travel. I often find myself conjuring up lists of my favorite new spots to share via email, phone or in conversation with relatives, acquaintances, and everyday followers. It's a joy to connect these folks with my favorite foods; but upon reflecting new blog content for this summer, I realized the solution: Utilize my platform to showcase the must-tastes of Memphis (and soon New Orleans, Little Rock and Austin).

Whether you're a local who's challenging the usual restaurant routine or an out-of-towner seeking the non-barbecue gems of the Memphis dining scene, take this list and run with it. My recommended orders are listed, but feel free to follow your cravings and branch out as you wish.

COFFEE + PASTRY
Starting with caffeine and a croissant is bound to bring upon a day of pleasant productivity. I especially look forward to early weekday mornings for a blog writing session, but late-morning coffee dates or lazy weekend drop-ins are the most magnificent at these local spots.

Porcellino's
brookhaven circle, east memphis
iced cafe shepherd + coffee cake

387 Pantry
south main, downtown
cappuccino + pecan croissant (from Porcellino's)

City & State
broad avenue (edge district coming in 2018)
iced bon bon + tea cake (from Hustle & Dough)

Tart
cooper young midtown
french press + almond croissant

LUNCH
Mid-day munching at one of these three will fulfill your hunger while allowing a shared plate strategy -- You can mix and match the dishes that catch your eye without getting too overwhelmed at the table. A slice of pizza, a scoop of guacamole, a charred edamame each carries enlivening flavors without weighing you down for the day.

Hog & Hominy
brookhaven circle, east memphis
oysters, crab claws, puff ball, thunderbird pizza

The Kitchen Bistro at Shelby Farms
east memphis
charred edamame, gulf shrimp salad

Babalu Tacos & Tapas
overton square, midtown or east memphis
tableside guac with crudité, duck confit taco, potato side

TAP ROOMS
The Memphis beer scene continues to revamp and refine its brews and accompanying ambiances, many of which we find ourselves spending afternoons sipping and taking in the scenery. Food trucks usually line the borders of these tap rooms, which offer a selection of exclusive taps that you can't try anywhere else.

High Cotton
the edge, downtown
belgian whit

Ghost River
south main, downtown
grindhouse

Wiseacre
broad ave
earl grey tea pale ale

GREENSPACES
Who doesn't enjoy an afternoon stroll, bike ride or picnic in the park? Memphis hosts a growing network of green spaces that conjure community and recreation. Who knows -- You might run into a festival or find a front row seat to the Mississippi River's charging tide, which carries underneath the new Big River Crossing and its LED lighting.

Martyr's Park
downtown

Greenbelt Park on Mud Island
harbor town

Overton Park
midtown

Shelby Farms' Hyde Lake
east memphis

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HAPPY HOUR + SNACK
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm all about the cheese board and the wine. Snacks are at the crux of my meal planning, whether locally or on vacations, so I take these spots very seriously as my interim meal enjoyment.

Loflin Yard
south end, downtown
rosé or barrel-aged old fashioned, wings, cheese board

Ecco on Overton Park
overton park, midtown
sauvignon blanc, cheese board, chorizo meatballs (happy hour only)

Sweet Grass Oyster Bar
cooper young, midtown
moscow mule, gulf oysters,butcher's platter

SWEET TREAT
If a wine or cocktail happy hour is not your pre-dinner strategy, not to worry; these indulgent yet refreshing popsicles, cupcakes and gelatos bring a confection-forward character to the city.

Mempops
east memphis, mobile food truck
nutella banana, coconut

Muddy's
cooper young, midtown
banana puddin', vegan almond brothers cupcake,  cookies n cream cupcake

Railgarten Ice Cream Shop
cooper young, midtown
coffee malt with jameson

DINNER
Indulge in one of the following, and you'll soon understand why Memphis is known for more than its barbecue. Southern-Italian, Delta-Asian fused, Creole, and farm-to-table expressions impress diners of all preferences. The cocktail offerings at each restaurant's expansive bar aren't to miss either.

Catherine & Mary's
south main, downtown
fried cheese, any pasta, brussels sprout salad, tuna carpaccio

Acre
east memphis
kampachi crudo, duck confit & shiitake spring rolls (bar only), black bass

Bounty on Broad
broad avenue
sweet & sour cauliflower, chicken "under a brick," pommes frites, stuffed trout

The Second Line
overton square, midtown
besh bbq shrimp, fried oyster po boy, catfish, cheese grits

LATE NIGHT
Wind down in local style with these totally eclectic and impressive late-night destinations. A juke joint, a hidden speakeasy and a Victorian home lay the foundation for fuzzy yet unforgettable night in Memphis.

Dodici
overton square, midtown
anything and everything recommended

Earnestine & Hazel’s
south main, downtown
ghost river, soul burger

Mollie Fontaine's
victorian village, midtown
dirty martini, served up